3 Snowshoe Hikes: Easy, Moderate and Difficult
by Elizabeth Folwell
A few frigid nights and a couple of generous snowstorms, and the Adirondack backcountry beckons winter visitors. The key to any great outing is being prepared, with layers of fleece and wool from head to toe, waterproof boots, trail food, water and safety gear recommended by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
In “On the Web,” a feature about snowshoeing that appeared in Adirondack Life‘s December 2012 issue, photographer and snowshoe maker Carl Heilman suggested three treks ranging from less than two miles round trip near Eagle Bay to an all-day affair on Algonquin Peak.
1.8 miles round trip, easy
Between Eagle Bay and Old Forge, Bald (also called Rondaxe) Mountain is a fun snowshoe outing for the whole family with many fine views over the hills and lakes of the Fulton Chain. The trail to the summit ledges and fire tower is a gradual incline with only a couple of steep sections that can be fun glissades on the way back down. From the sign for Bald Mountain along Route 28, about 6.5 miles west of Inlet and 4.5 miles east of Old Forge, head north on Rondaxe Road a few hundred feet to the trailhead parking on the left. Sign the register and head up the trail.
3.8 miles round trip, moderate
This open summit in Newcomb is a great afternoon snowshoe with wonderful views of the southern High Peaks from a 60-foot fire tower. The well-maintained trail climbs steadily from the parking area to the restored tower and ranger’s cabin. Climbing the stairs of an icy fire tower on a windy winter day can be an adventure in itself—but has its rewards. The well-marked parking lot, close to the trails at the Adirondack Interpretive Center, is on the south side of Route 28N—a couple of miles west of Newcomb or about 12 miles east of Long Lake.
8.6 miles round trip, difficult
The challenging trail to Algonquin Peak ascends about 3,000 feet from the parking lot to the mountaintop. The exposed summit can be quite icy, requiring crampons rather than snowshoes, though the dramatic views are worth the effort. Plus, the steep sections on the summit dome are great for glissading on your way back down. From Route 73, about a mile east of the ski jumps near Lake Placid, head south on Adirondack Loj Road to the trailhead lot at Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks Information Center (parking fee of $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers).